Thursday, November 14, 2013

November 14, 2013

On Tuesday we had our PTA meeting and started talking about boundaries and over crowding.  A few things to consider.....
  • We will not fit into our current buildings next year.
  • We need to think about a one year solution.
  • The boundaries are slated to be redrawn for the 2015-16 school year.
  • Kindergarten, first and second grade levels must be located on a ground floor.  
  • Access Academy is newly relocated to the Rose City Park facility. 
James Robertson proposed a "Discussion Draft" (DD) that he developed.   All are welcome to discuss but we need to understand there may be moving parts that we are not privy to.  As in nature, every action has an equal and opposite reaction.  I appreciate James' dedication to the cause and willingness to discuss options.  

Access Academy moved from Sabin to Rose City Park last year with the understanding that they would be there at least through the 2014-15 school year and they will have the ability to grow their program.  Access currently has 236 kids in their program.  We have 215 at Hollyrood.  The DD proposes moving Access to Hollyrood and I don't see how that program could fit.

I don't believe that next year's one year solution will affect any boundary decisions going forward.  A 3 campus solution sounds like a nightmare but it may be the only solution for a single year.  A boundary review in the scope that is being proposed has not been done for many years.  I actually don't know when or if it has been done to this scale.  

I believe that if BCS was split between RCP and BCS Fernwood on a permanent basis PPS would create 2 schools.  The distance between the buildings is too great to make a functional, single school.  Hollyrood and Fernwood are difficult enough to manage but we are within walking distance and can share programs (i.e. Reading Buddies, plays, concerts).  If we were to function as one school it would require bussing for any of those programs and it would be very expensive on an ongoing basis.  Perhaps they would/could do it for one year but long term the expense would preclude this option form being viable.  

I walked the RCP building last week and saw 5-6 empty class rooms so there is some room there.  Perhaps we could move 1st and 4th grade for one year.  This gives Hollyrood back 3 class rooms as they will most likely need 5 classrooms for kindergarten.  It allows for a lunchroom and space for Campfire.  Perhaps a pre-K program as well.  Moving the 4th grade to RCP loosens up space at Fernwood.  It means they could continue Reading Buddies and the like.  It keeps Hollyrood open and creates space at both existing buildings.  It also means that not all kids displaced  to RCP have to be on the ground floor.  

There is also some space at Grant HS.  I don't know how that could be used but I know it's there.  

Modular units were brought up in the past and we have been told they will not be considered.  There is not space, the permitting process is lengthy, they must be plumbed, and they are very expensive. 

SACET is working on proposing new rules for the Enrollment and Transfer process.  When the boundaries are redrawn the new rules will be in effect.  I don't know what the rules will be but I know that equity at at the forefront of their minds and is their goal.  Neighborhood schools are very important as well.  This is a difficult balance because some neighborhoods are more or less equitable than others. Trying to create equitable schools in all neighborhoods is a lofty goal but very important for all children in Portland.  

As boundaries are considered PPS is working with PSU on growth trends and projections.  They are also working with the city and metro to develop growth projections and new boundaries.  The new boundaries will consider equity and what is good for the whole of our city.  Individual property values will not be considered.  I know this is difficult to hear but this process is bigger than BCS and our issues.  It will be done to benefit all schools and children. 

The district is currently in negotiations with the Portland Association of Teachers and until a contract is in place, it will be  their top priority.  I don't believe we will hear from the district on a solution for 2014-15 until the new year.

These comments are my opinions and observations.  I don't have access to any more or less information than anyone else.  I have been working in the system for nine years and have been through boundary adjustments, the threat of building closures (twice), was part of a program restructure to a K-8 and have spent many hours in meetings and talks with district facilities personnel.  I encourage open conversations and shared information.  I will continue to attend meetings and share what I learn with this group.  

The Oregonian's web site had this article today and it gives the current time line for the boundary review and discusses different aspects of the process.   It also links to other articles that have good information.  

I look forward to further discussions and ideas.

Heather Leek

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